The Impact of Minority Social Image vs. Minority Status -an Alternative Explanation to Discrimination against Ethnic Minorities in China’s Labor Market

Xiaoyun Shen, University of Minnesota
Yufeng Lai, University of Minnesota

This paper explores the impact of ethnic minority social image rather than minority status on discrimination against them in the job market. We define minority social image as an employer’s ideas about a minority based on one's ethnic language and cultural characteristic instead of the minority status. To measure one’s social image, two sets of variables are used: respondents’ fluency in Mandarin and self-reported social and linguistic environment indicators. With the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS) data resource, we capture the effects of social image associated with language use by comparing the majority Han Chinese, Mandarin speaking minorities, and minorities who speaks their own language. We argue that minority languages operate independently from minority status in Chinese labor market. Thus, it may be the social image created by the language a minority uses, rather than the minority status that leads to discrimination against them in the job market.

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Presented in Poster Session 8: Economy, Labor Force, Education, and Inequality/Gender, Race and Ethnicity